Jim Siergey: Fish Story

September 23rd, 2018

I understand that there are fishermen who return to the watery depths the fish they catch. I’m not sure why these sportsmen do that but I suspect it is because they feel it is the humane thing to do.

But, is it?

Being snagged through the mouth by a metal hook and yanked from its watery environs into one filled with air wherein they dangle helplessly while the sharp metal is extracted from its flesh is, I imagine, quite a traumatic experience for the poor aquatic being.

Tossed unceremoniously to the bottom of the boat, the persistent piscis attempts to fight off death by flopping about helplessly, gasping for water as it makes a futile attempt to return to the sea, lake or pond from which it came.

As the finned creature slowly accepts the painful reality that its final lap has been swum, it ceases its agitation and waits for the gill reaper to make its appearance. But before that happens, it undergoes yet another traumatic experience as it is suddenly grasped, lifted and deposited back into its habitat of H2O.

All’s well that ends well? Not so fast, Bertram.

winslowhomerfishAh, the fisherman’s life…

 

The fish, having gone through a near-death experience, now feels born again! Like most beings that have been born again, it returns to its grouper…er…group of family and friends and just can’t stop talking about it.

We all know the type.

Before long, this born-again bather of the briny becomes the most annoying fish in the neighborhood. As with all the other fish that have been thrown back and reborn, it finds itself shunned.

The lake begins to build an estimable amount of …loner fish.

Eventually, these loner fish discover each another and, in religious camaraderie, they hang out together. Their born again zealotry is so overwhelming that they begin to organize and travel about in pairs, knocking on clam shells, coral reefs, hollow logs, even Davy Jones’s locker door so they can spread their gospel and attempt to convert their aquatic brethren.

If you ask me, I think they take their role as symbols of Christianity a bit too literally.

Now, I have no proof that any of this stuff happens when a fish is returned to its watery environs. I mean, how could I? I’m not the Freud of Fish but who’s to say that it doesn’t?

Walleye don’t mean to carp on this chubsect…er…subject (although I cod) or get up on a perch and trout my own horn so before I get any more blue in the gills, I’ll close by saying “B-B-B-Bass all, folks!”

Editor note #1: We at The Third City apologize for this pun-filled conclusion. Like you, we think it’s crappie.

Editor note #2: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Philistines At The Door

 

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Letter From Milo: Fake Ones

September 18th, 2018
Every once in a while my brother-in-law sends me porn in an email. It’s usually a bit of fluff that someone sends him and he forwards it to me. Now, I’m not saying my brother-in-law is a pervert – you’d have to ask my sister about that – but he does enjoy a bit of porn on occasion.

 

The porn he sends me is actually pretty tame stuff. It usually has a humorous bent to it. For example, this past holiday season he forwarded me an attachment that had a Christmas card from the then-President. The subject line of the email read, “Greetings from George and Laura’s Bush.” The picture was of President and Mrs. Bush, full frontal naked, smiling and waving from one of the doorways of the White House.

 

It was obviously a Photoshop job and not very well done. I looked at it for a few moments before deleting it. The computer I use is accessible to my wife and children and I don’t like leaving anything on it that would offend their tender sensibilities. They have a low enough opinion of me anyway without adding porn freak to their list of grievances.

 

In my youth I was as intrigued by the nude female form as any sex-deprived young hetero male. In those days opportunities for seeing naked women were rare. Along with my equally horny young friends, we made every effort to satisfy our sexual curiousity. As teenagers, we snuck into burlesque houses in the dying days of the art form (see my earlier post about the Follies Theater on State Street.) We hoarded magazines like Playboy, according them the same respect and awe that a baseball nerd reserves for a Honus Wagner collector card.

 

A few years later, when social mores loosened, I saw “Deep Throat” starring Linda Lovelace at the Tivoli Theater in Gary, Indiana. A couple of years later I saw “The Devil in Miss Jones,” starring the great Georgina Spelvin at a theater in San Francisco.

 

When home theater technology became available I rented a couple of VHS tapes at the local video store (pre-Blockbuster days) but found them, on the whole, pretty boring. By that time I had experienced a bit of the real thing and, like most sportsman, I preferred to participate rather than watch from the sidelines.

 

Years later, when the great Internet explosion occurred, I was pretty much bored with the whole concept of watching other people copulate. I generally paid no mind to the filmed shenanigans of bored housewives, mustachioed UPS drivers, horny cheerleaders, naughty nurses, pizza delivery boys, errant nuns, French maids and doctors with unorthodox bedside manners.

 

One thing I did notice, however, was the proliferation of fake tits. It seemed that all the ladies in these films were as inflated as Michelin tires, their breasts grotesquely large and sometimes misshapen. They seemed to defy all known laws of physics and gravity.

 

Fake tits weren’t restricted to porn stars. The popped up everywhere. From Hollywood and Vine to Main Street USA, fake tits became as common as coffee shops. I read an article in a legitimate newspaper that trumpeted the fact that some parents were buying breast implants for their daughters as high school graduation presents. Every once in awhile my dear wife, who works in an industry with a preponderence of women, will tell me that so-and-so just got a boob job. She will say this as casually as if mentioning what were were having for dinner that evening.

 

“Why would she do that?’ I asked. “I thought she looked pretty good.”

 

“Well, she’s had three kids.”

 

“So?”

 

“Maybe she wants to look better. Improve her self-esteem.”

 

“How old is she?”

 

“I don’t know, 50 maybe.”

 

“Jesus, who’s she trying to fool.”

 

“I guess she just wants to feel better about herself.”

 

“If she want to feel better she should get a dog. Dogs always make you feel good.”

 

“I swear, sometimes you sound like a complete idiot.”

 

“I love you too, babe.”

 

Maybe I’m being a boob about this, but I hate fake tits. I hate the mindset behind them, the pathetic attempts by some women to re-engineer their bodies in the hopes that their lives will magically change for the better. That’s a lot to expect from bags of saline solution or petroleum byproducts.

 

Maybe I’m a dumbass, but why are fake tits considered sexy and false teeth are not? Why are fake tits deemed an asset while a prosthetic leg is considered unfortunate? Why are fake tits considered good for self-esteem while a glass eye is basically good for nothing.

 

I guess I’ll never figure it out. Ah, well, whoever said, Vanity, thy name is woman, might have been on to something. Wait a minute, the doorbell just rang. I hope it’s FedEx. I recently ordered a Swedish Dick Extender on the Internet and it due to arrive at any time. Gotta run.
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Jim Siergey: Philistines At The Door

September 16th, 2018

As followers of this blog know, I recently moved from Chicago to a small town just over the border in Indiana.

Okay, I keep calling it a small town which, technically, it is but even more technically and despite being situated in Indiana, it is a suburb of Chicago. I admit it. But if you don’t like me calling it a small town, bite me.

But, not hard and somewhere where it won’t show.

This move, of course, means that our house in the city is up for sale. Realtors with prospective purchasers in tow have been traipsing through the place that for a long time was our “Home Sweet Home”.

Recently I received a baffling and amusing email from my realtor.

Since street parking during the day is as hard to find as a helping hand from a Republican, the realtors and their clients park in the parking pad off the alley and enter the premises through the back door.

It was reported to my realtor that one set of visitors was afraid to enter because upon opening the back door they saw a bottle of vodka and a baseball bat.

I’ll pause so you can read that line again.

Yes, they were frightened by the sight of a bottle of vodka and a baseball bat.

To set the scenario for you, this accompanying photo is the first thing one will see upon opening my back door.

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Welcome to Jim, Indiana…

 

I suppose that sight might be a bit jarring but frightening? My good sirs and dear madams, what you see here is… Art.

I should know because I created it. I am an Artist. I can’t help it if everything I touch becomes… (strum of harp strings)…Art.

The piece displayed here is a “Readymade” (Google it) a la Marcel DuChamp (Google him too).

During the course of cleanup I found myself left with this old wooden high chair and on the floor, a near empty bottle of vodka. Being the Artist that I am, I put the two together and Voila!—Art!

Some say that the best art is the kind that frightens so, not only is my creation Art, it is the Best Art, is it not?

As for the bat, there was a baseball bat lying on the floor off to the side. There was also a hammer and few other small items as well as a cardboard box filled with bubble wrap. Y’know, scary stuff like that.

Besides these potential buyers being ignorant of Art, if they were frightened by a near-empty bottle of vodka and a baseball bat (without a person holding both of these items), I contend that they have no business considering moving into the big, bad, scary city.

So, to this incident I can only quote Bugs Bunny’s closing line from The Rabbit of Seville, “Ehhhhh, Next!”

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Idle Chatter

 

 

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Jim Siergey: Idle Chatter

September 6th, 2018

“Is today Thursday?” I asked myself.

“Yes, it is.” I replied.

“Well,” I sighed, “I’d better start getting ready.”

“For what?”

“For Friday, you ninny.”

“Hey, there’s no need for name calling.”

“Well, you should know. After all, you are me.”

“That’s not my fault.”

“No one is blaming you. Since you are me and I am you, we should stick together.”

“We can’t help but do so.”

“Sometimes I wonder.”

“A little disagreement between oneself can be a healthy thing.”

“Who says?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps I read it somewhere.”

“I don’t recall reading that anywhere.”

“Oh, and you remember everything.”

“I remember as much as you do.”

IdleChatCsiergey

What did you say?

 

“Sometimes I wonder.”

“No wonder.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Don’t you know? You should. You’re me.”

“If I’m you, then you are me.”

“Obviously.”

“I was being sarcastic.”

“Obviously.”

“Oh, you think you know everything.”

“I know everything about me.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Not really. I’ve barely scratched the surface.”

“Do you need a band-aid?”

“Can’t you ever be serious?”

“It’s difficult. As you well know.”

“I do? Sometimes I wonder.”

“Lonely as a cloud?”

“Huh?”

“Sorry. That may have gone over our head.”

“Like a lonely cloud.”

“Yes.”

“So, where do we go from here?”

“I don’t know. Let’s ask me.”

“Who, me?”

“Yes, me!”

“Hell, I don’t know.”

(in unison) “Third Base!”

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Barbara Harris

 

 

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Letter From Milo: At Jesse Brown

September 3rd, 2018
I was sitting in the admitting office of the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, waiting to set up an appointment for a physical. I had made the mistake of coming down on a Monday, which is the busiest day at the hospital. Thursdays and Fridays are best. There are generally no lines at the end of the week and you can be in and out in 20 minutes.

 

The reason I was at the VA was that I had given up my health insurance a while earlier. My wife and I are both self-employed and our incomes have taken a serious hit over the past year and a half. Along with the rest of America, we are feeling the effects of The Great Meltdown. We had to cut expenses somewhere and decided this was a good option. As a combat veteran, who was exposed to Agent Orange, I’m entitled to VA health care. After all, I risked my life, limbs and sanity in Vietnam (where, I believe, the USA won the Silver Medal,) why not take advantage of any perks the government might offer?

 

A veterans’ hospital is a strange place. Like the late, great James Brown sang, This is a man’s world. The only women in sight were nurses, doctors, and clerical workers. The patients are almost completely male, which makes sense when you consider that the armed forces, especially the combat forces, are predominantly male, too.

 

If a VA hospital is a man’s world, it is a damaged man’s world.

 

It is where soldiers who were injured in the service of their country come for treatment. One of the reasons they come to the VA is that most health insurance plans have a devilish stricture known as “a pre-existing condition.” I’m sure I don’t have to explain this asinine clause to any of my readers, but a pre-existing condition is enough to exclude most wounded veterans from traditional health care insurance. Many of them have no choice but to turn to the VA.

 

As I mentioned, the hospital was crowded that Monday. I couldn’t help but notice that a surprising number of people waiting for treatment were maimed. I’m talking about amputees, double amputees, men with limps, men with walkers and canes, blind men, disfigured men, and a few who appeared to be insane: men who talked to themselves, made wild gestures, or drooled.

 

As I was sitting in the waiting area, a man in a wheelchair rolled up next to me. He was an elderly black man with a blanket covering his legs.

 

“How you doing, brother?” he asked me.

 

It was a question that veterans understand on many levels. It wasn’t simply a conversational ploy. It was an existential question about the state of your universe – your mental, physical, and social well being. The old man was asking if I was eating well, getting enough sleep, making ends meet, having nightmares, or suffering from any of the horrors associated with war.

 

“I’m doing fine,” I answered.

 

“Where was you at?”

 

“Vietnam.”

 

“I was in Korea.”

 

“That must have been tough.”

 

“It was, brother. I never been so cold in my life. Lost all the toes on my right foot. Had a hole in my boot.”

 

“Damn.”

 

“I understand ‘Nam was hot.”

 

“Yeah, real hot. Rained a lot, too.”

 

“I’d take hot over cold anytime.”

 

“I would, too.”

 

“You can hide from hot but you can’t hide from cold.”

 

“You’ve got a good point there.”

 

“I live with my daughter. She always keep the thermostat too low. I tell her, ‘Turn up the heat,’ but she say it’s gonna raise our electric bill. I tell her, ‘Fuck the damn electric bill, it’s too cold in here.’ Man, I hate the cold.”

 

A few moments later they called the old man’s name and he rolled away to meet his appointment.

 

As I looked around the spacious waiting room, I noticed that it was a truly diverse place, blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, young men, old men, middle-aged men, all in the same boat. I saw a white man pushing a black man in a wheelchair. I saw black men drinking coffee and chatting amiably with white men. I saw young men, probably Iraq veterans, companiably exchanging war stories with men three times their age. I heard raucous laughter, saw handshakes and high fives. I saw men comparing old wounds and scars. I saw a mixed race group rush over to help an elderly man who had fallen.

 

I saw joy, humor, and dignity among men, who by all rights, should have been in states of regret, sorrow and despair. I reflected on the fact that if it’s true that the military is the least segregated institution in America, then a VA hospital proves that shared experience and shared adversity can often trump hatred and intolerance. That was the good thing about a veteran. It made you part of something that seemed pure, somehow divorced from much of the ugliness that pervades out society.

 

Despite the bitter cold of that March morning, I had a warm feeling when I left the VA hospital. I felt that I had somehow reconnected to the great and generous soul of humankind. But it was a long walk to my car and the cold started getting to me. I buttoned up my coat and put on my hat. Damn, I hate the cold.
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Randolph Street: All The Old

September 2nd, 2018

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Cementerio de la Recoleta–Buenos Aires

 

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All photos © Jon Randolph

jonrandolph.com

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Jim Siergey: Barbara Harris

August 28th, 2018

Barbara Harris has died. She was a favorite actress of mine plus she was a Chicago girl.

She never became real famous but fame was not something to which she aspired. Like any true Mid-westerner, the work was what mattered.

Born in Evanston, she was a founding member of Second City. From there she went on to have great success on stage and in film, winning a Tony award and being nominated for an Academy Award.

I enjoyed watching her in such movies as “Family Plot”, Hitchcock’s final film, and she was outstanding in Robert Altman’s “Nashville” in which her character closed the film.

But I first became aware of her in 1965 when I went to the Olympic Theater in Cicero to see “A Thousand Clowns” starring Jason Robards. I have since watched that movie more times than I can remember.

It was shot on location in New York City and Ms. Harris plays a fledgling child welfare worker who eventually falls in love with the non-conformist Robards and his young nephew. She is bubbly, twinkly, ditsy and completely lovable. She holds her own with such screen veterans like Robards and Martin Balsam.

Seeing this film as a teenager, I was greatly influenced by it. Not so much by Barbara, who was a joy to watch, but by the Jason Robards character, Murray. His character did his best to avoid working for a living and if a job prospect did come along he hoped it would fall through.

barbaraharrisA-Thousand-Clowns

Yes, sir, that’s my baby…

 

A favorite bit of dialogue from the films goes as follows…

Murray: Nick, in a moment you are going to see a horrible thing.
Nick (his nephew): What’s that?
Murray: People going to work.

Murray’s approach to life appealed to me.

I never really had any dreams or made any plans for the future. Growing up, it appeared to me that every adult groused and griped about his job. Everyone hated where they worked and what they did for a living. Therefore, it seemed to me that working somewhere for a living was what I should avoid.

So I did.

I successfully rambled through life working at a variety of jobs for a period of time and then not working until the money ran low enough that I latched onto another menial job. They were there for the taking whenever I needed them.

Ah, those were the days.

Having always been able to draw, I eventually stumbled into the world of animation and worked in a free-lance basis for many years. I also did illustration and comic strip work. I was getting paid for doing the same stuff I used to get sent to the principal’s office for doing.

The irony was not lost on me.

Free-lancing was the closest thing to not working I could ever hope for. I rarely had to go to a place of business, working mostly from my home, which saved valuable wear and tear on shoe leather. Plus, work wasn’t constant. It ebbed and flowed leaving me plenty of time to…not work.

Perhaps sloth was already part of my genetic makeup or maybe “A Thousand Clowns” persuaded me to become what some might call an unambitious bum. Either way, I’m not complaining. That trip to the Olympic also made me aware of Barbara Harris.

So, pick up a ukulele if you have one and strum along with Murray and me as we serenade Ms. Harris with one more chorus of “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Slow Down

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